Theatre Review: “Merrily We Roll Along” @ Huntington Theatre Company, 09/13/17

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It’s been three days since I saw Merrily We Roll Along, and I’m still speechless.

Before even reading this, go and buy tickets to see it at Huntington Theatre Company. I’m serious; Just do it.

First off, this should transfer to Broadway this season.

If they produced it in the right Broadway house — something small and intimate, it would sell all the tickets and possibly win all the awards. Maria Friedman’s vision as director is impeccable. It’s literally perfect — every moment, every cue — every damn thing. I just don’t know how the show could have been directed any better. It’s incredibly beautiful the way she tells the story to give clarity to a very complex story that’s told from the end to the beginning.

It’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

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Theatre Review: “Gypsy” @ Lyric Stage, 09/03/17

LSC_GYPSY_iconSeeing Gypsy at Lyric Stage was a first of many things: first time I’ve seen this musical, first time at the Lyric Stage, and first regional production that’s being reviewed for Boston Musical Theatre. (All very exciting!)

Walking into the Lyric Stage, I was struck with how intimate the space is. I’m a huge fan of bringing big musicals into small, intimate stages, so I was very excited to see Gypsy in this space — especially in a three-quarter thrust.

Since never seeing this iconic, classic musical before, I ended up watching it like was a brand new musical, and while I do understand why some of these songs have lasted generations (mostly “Let Me Entertain You” because you hear it ad nauseam throughout), I’m still trying to understand why Gypsy is an important story that needs to be told in 2017, because I, frankly, I’m not totally sure it is.

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Theatre Review: “Finding Neverland” @ Boston Opera House, 8/15/17

88318-3.jpg“Second star on the right and straight on ’til morning…”

This quote brings me back to my childhood playing pirates, with my brothers, at Disneyland on Tom Sawyer’s Island. We crossed rickety wooden bridges, hid in dark tunnels, and had sword fights on every inch of the island. It was filled with laughter, mystery and adventure. I felt like a lost boy – a boy who would never grow up.

Finding Neverland follows the famous playwright, J.M. Barrie, and what inspired the amazing world of Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and the Lost Boys. At the center, it was inspired by a woman named Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and her four boys, George, Peter, Jack and Michael, after they met, coincidentally, in Kensington Gardens, London, at the turn of the century.

As I walked away from the theatre, I reminisced about my childhood adventures playing pirates. It reminded me (and the rest of the adults in the room) that “play” is not a four-letter word.  The joy and magic the story brings to children in the audience is also beautiful — especially during Act 2 when they lit up the audience in the orchestra and asked us to clap if we believed in fairies!

There is so much emotional memory that each person brings to the story of Peter Pan, that it’s almost hard to walk away without having your “heart strings” pulled on. And yet, I also left wanting more…

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I’m Back, but Different – Boston Musical Theatre

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Photo credit: Spencer Williams

Way back in 2009…

I started a little blog called The Broadway Critic. At the time, there were very few theatre bloggers out there — maybe a handful. Almost 8 years later, the landscape, including the theatre blogosphere, is markedly different.  I remember when Twitter was new(ish) and Instagram wasn’t around yet… Facebook business pages were just catching on, and an iPhone was mostly used as an actual phone (gasp!) and not as a tiny computer. I also remember trying to build my own The Broadway Critic app (what a disaster!) and being so excited when my followers on Twitter hit 100! (Also, that’s when I liked Twitter.)

There were so many Broadway shows that didn’t have websites or any social media accounts. I wanted to be a part of the ‘media shift’ in how theatre was being produced… and I did, for four years. I loved every part of it.

And then my attention was needed elsewhere.

2013

I began to focus on other writing projects like For Tonight, a new musical, composing, having a family, changing jobs, moving across the country — you know, important life things. I didn’t have the time or the focus that I needed to produce the content as I had intended/wanted. It was time to stop. I changed my Twitter handle; I closed up shop and moved forward.

And now, looking back, I have lost four years of my theatre-going experiences.

I’m gutted about it.

Shows like Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 (Off-Broadway & Broadway), Come From Away (San Diego & Broadway), Up Here! (San Diego), Half a Six-Pence (West End), Hamilton, An American in Paris, WaitressThe Last Ship, Bright Star (San Diego & Broadway), American Psycho, Bend it Like Beckham (West End), From Here to Eternity (West End), The Light Princess (The National Theatre), If/Then, The Bridges of Madison County, Stephen Ward (West End)and others weren’t written about. Some of my favorite (and least favorite) musicals are in that list and I didn’t get a chance to share what I thought.

Now, in 2017

My intentions with this site isn’t to tell you what to see or what not to see — that is your choice. My recommendation is to always go and see any type of musical theatre — children’s, high school, community, regional, revivals, new, touring, and Broadway. Go see them all.

My focus of the newly minted, Boston Musical Theatre, will be to present some interesting arguments and create continued dialogue about a theatrical production after I’ve seen it – mostly in the Boston area or on Broadway. I’ll also share with you why I connected (or didn’t connect) to the production. I love to see stories being told in innovative ways through music, dance and theatre. It’s a type of connection into emotion that we don’t allow ourselves to use on an average day.

Every theatregoer brings something unique to the table when they walk in to see a show. And every single person will walk out seeing a different show. That’s the magic. I know there will be many new shows that cross my path that will forever change me as a person like so many have before.

So… please comment, share, and bring your thoughts to the table. I want to hear from you.

Listen to new musical, “For Tonight” in concert at NYMF

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When their parents both die of a mysterious illness that swept through their small Welsh village, surviving children Thomas, Haydon, and Nettie are forced to fend for themselves in a community that has largely shunned them. Thomas has taken control of the household, Nettie is coming into her own (and out of her shell) as a member of the community by selling her clothing she makes and Haydon wishes for something larger than this small town. Inspired by the gypsies who once shared their home, Haydon heads off to Liverpool, guitar in hand, to find what the world has to offer. There he meets Mirela, a beautiful young Romani woman who speaks to his wandering soul. However, when word comes that Haydon that his sister is deathly ill, he is forced to choose between the family and life he left behind, or the freedom and love he has found.

Listen to the show in entirety on Youtube, here. Or click on the videos below.

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How Many Shows Have You Walked Out Of?

Broadway 2013-14Until recently, I’ve never had the gall to walk out of a movie, let alone a live theatrical event. I was under the impression that even if it was extremely bad I would learn something from it. And sometimes that still rings true, but in the last couple of months, I’ve walked out of two productions at intermission and didn’t feel any guilt nor did I think I was going to miss something that was going to happen in the second act. If it’s bad production then I’m out.

And the weird thing is, it was actually quite liberating… freeing even.

(To be honest, I’d rather be at home watching Homeland or The Walking Dead.) 

I have seen some shows where the second act is markedly better than the first, and I’m very happy that I’ve stayed but both shows that I walked out of had no hope of getting any better and if it did, I’m not really sad that I missed it. The funny thing is both people that I was with didn’t want to ask to leave but when I said I wanted to, they were so relieved, and we were out of there in about ten seconds flat!

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The Broadway Critic Blog Quoted in “Song of Spider-man”

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Last week, I received a tweet from a friend, Jeffrey Miele saying this: “@abroadwaycritic any chance you were at the 1st preview of @SpideyOnBway? If so you’re quoted in #songofspidermam (pg 189)”. I tweeted him back and asked what it said, and lo and behold, it’s true — The Broadway Critic Blog was quoted in Chapter 11 in the new book Song of Spider-man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History written by the show’s book writer, Glen Berger.

I instantly bought the book on Amazon.com and waited for it to come in the mail. I went to pg. 189 and sure enough, there it is (pictured above)! Berger has quoted my writer, Sean O’Conner, in his review of the first preview. You can read the entire review here. What you don’t see in the picture above is Michael Reidel’s quote saying how much he loathed the production right underneath mine! Obviously, two very different opinions.

And there you have it… I know some readers weren’t very happy that I posted a “review” of the first preview of Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark, but now it’s a part of Spider-man’s history. I just kinda wish that the quote actually came true… 

I do have tickets to see Spider-man 2.0 in February 2014. Since I’ve only “reviewed” Spider-man 1.0 in the past I’m looking forward to seeing the changes that were made between the two versions (if I can even remember the original).

Hopefully the book is as interesting as the drama that has surrounded Spider-man over the last three years… I hope to read it this weekend.

I only wish they wrote “The” before “Broadway Critic Blog”, but it’s okay – I’ll take the quote where we can get it!

Have you read it? What are your thoughts?

How Many Broadway Shows Have You Seen?

Updated: October 2013

The question of a decade: how many Broadway shows have you seen?

I get that question asked a lot, mostly by my students or from people who have never been to New York City. While, I haven’t seen as many of some of my friends in New York City, I feel like I have conquered Broadway in the last decade with some fantastic fanaticism. Since the day I saw my first Broadway show, June 2nd, 2000, I’ve been hooked.

I’ll do a detailed analysis in a different post, but I did put how much I paid and the totals for each show and category. It’s a very interesting list and one I’m proud of! Here’s to the next 150 shows!

Here’s my lists:

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Theatre Review: “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” @ Curran Theatre, SF, 10/09/13

BeautifulIt’s always a treat to see an out-of-town premiere of a new musical. This time I had the opportunity to see, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre. It’s been awhile since San Francisco had the opportunity to host an out-of-town try-out (the last one I saw was Legally Blonde), but based off of last night’s opening of Beautiful, we are more than a fantastic audience. Producers, take note! Come to San Francisco.

I’m just going to put this out there at the beginning of this review. I don’t think that Beautiful was written for my demographic – white, male, early-30’s. Honestly, that’s okay. I’m not offended. I’m pretty sure this show was written for folks who are over 40 that need to take a stroll down memory lane. And let me say: there is nothing wrong with that. For the audience members who could reflect and remember King’s music and the time period, I’m pretty sure they loved it.

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